Interview by Mark Bayross
Having conquered their native Australia with a Number One album and a string of explosive live shows, 28 Days have been quickly winning friends over here with their infectious blend of hardcore skate punk and hip-hop funk.
I caught up with frontman Jay Dunne on a cold December night having just come off stage at Camden’s famous Electric Ballroom in support of New York hardcore legends Sick Of It All. Needless to say the band had just played a storming set.
How do you think it went tonight?
It went well. The Sick Of It All crowd is a tough crowd and apart from the Australians, there were actually some English people getting into it too, so it was cool. The Sick Of It All crowd are there to hear hardcore bands, so when you play to them they nearly always just stand there and just stare at you, make you feel uncomfortable…but tonight they were really cool. London’s a good place to play.
You’ve been around the country. You must be near the end of the tour?
Yeah, only two more shows and we’re back to Oz. Back home to my son.
Are you missing Australia?
Yeah. I’ve been on the road for a while now and it’s getting to the point where, all the Melbourne people are going to get cut up when they hear this, but I’ve been away from home for that long now that wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home…it’s like that song by that dude…
Yeah, Paul Young! So, basically I’m the type of guy who’s always on the road…so wherever I lay my hat etcetera…The deal is, I miss my family, I just miss ‘em – my girl and my kid – apart from that I fuckin’ love it! They’re the only two people who could ask me to give it up and they never would, and that’s why we’re so close…
How has the tour gone?
It’s gone great. We started off in Europe – we played some shows in Finland with Hardcore Superstar, they’re good friends of ours but their crowd’s totally different to ours. Finland too…you throw Finland into the mix…I don’t know what the fuck’s going on in their minds! [laughs] I mean, Bomfunk MCs come from there…
Oh, do they?
Yeah…found out while we were there. It’s a weird place; you’ve got people who are somewhere between the very old and the very new, and we’re kind of in the middle, so they didn’t know which way to take us, so those couple of shows were pretty testing. But then the Sick Of It All shows have been really good because of the crowd – it’s the crowd we started playing to, now that things have blown up in Australia, we’ve started playing to a different crowd, so quite often we feel more comfortable when we come back and do those kinds of shows.
Who do you see your audience as?
The thing is, I can’t try and target our audience because that would be targeting my music. We’re kind of, whoever likes us is our audience, and we’re not into, like, “what’s that guy doing at the show?”, or anything like that – we’re happy to have anyone there who likes our music thank you very much, and thanks for coming!
What’s been the most fun show you’ve done?
On this tour so far? Probably the first Sick Of It All show was the most fun because we’d come from Europe and we had been doing shows in Germany, Finland, and all that shit…because we knew we’d be playing to the hardcore kids, we knew we’d get a couple of them…probably the most fun show was that first one…I think Wales actually, Wales was probably our most fun show! See, there’s been a couple of them…It was in Newport. They were really cool there. The band who played before us were kind of fans so they got us all hyped up while we were playing. They were very good, they were called Jackarse…would you print that please? Jackarse were there and they got us really hyped up. They’re just a good young band, really…
Have you played Ireland?
No, we haven’t yet.
Any plans to play there?
No, not yet.
The only reason I ask is because of that Jesus thing… [onstage earlier Jay was whipping up the crowd with cries of “Let’s here it for Sick Of It All!” – crowd cheers in appreciation – “Let’s hear it for Jesus!” – stunned silence…a cheeky stunt that seems to keep Jay amused]
[Much laughter] Ha ha…the thing is… religion isn’t massive in Australia, particularly with the “youth”, so that’s always been my gag. Usually when we’re pulling into a big event or something and the kids realise it’s us in the car, and they’re like “Jay! Jay! Let’s hear it for 28 Days!” and stuff, and I’m like [raises fist in the air] “Yeah! Let’s hear it for Jesus!” and they’re all…[feigns looking away in embarrassment] I’m a big fan of Andy Kaufman, I like to be provocative, I love a bit of reaction, man…if it makes people irate, at least you’re doing something.
When we first got to Finland we did an MTV-style thing and the interview was pretty uneventful…I was sitting there in the middle of the interview and I thought, “Fuck this. This is boring as fuck”, and went “So, dude, is it true all Finnish girls are sluts?” [laughs] And the whole of this TV station were like ”What?!” and my guitarist just looked at me and was like [puts hands over face] “What the fuck did you say that for?!” so I just said, “Oh, I don’t know, these Swedish guys told me all Finnish girls were sluts…”
Apparently the last people who did that were the Sex Pistols…I didn’t know that, it was just off the top of my head…and apparently they got attacked with bottles at a show for doing it. I’d rather get on there and fucking say something that’s at least entertaining, in a bad or a good way…at least it’s something to watch. I just hate boring interviews and TV stuff – “So where are you from?” “Oh, we’re from Melbourne, we’re into hardcore and we skate”…You know, fuck it, who gives a fuck about that? All the bands these days are into that stuff – they all skate, they’re all cool, they all do the right stuff… people want to see a bit of personality…and also bit of good music! [laughs]
With Finland, you picked the country with the lowest sense of humour rate – if there is such a thing – in the world…
…One person laughed! This girl was like “what are doing?” and I was like “I dunno…just being myself” and she just went “You’re terrible…” [Laughs]
Do you find that you have to pick the bands that you tour with now quite carefully?
No, we don’t get caught up in that shit. We’ve had a bit of success in Australia and basically, if it all goes wrong tomorrow, we’re happy with what we’ve done, so…we got asked today what we would compromise to break America and I said I’m not really that keen to compromise anything. There’s bands like Kid Rock getting around, stuff like that, and all the manufactured shit, which I suppose Kid Rock sort of is a bit…there’s so much manufactured music going around that, I don’t know…we don’t want to be part of that bullshit.
Are songs like SUCKER and KILL THE FAKE aimed at anyone in particular?
They’re aimed at people who flippin’ change to keep up with styles…it shouldn’t be about that, you know? Time frames shouldn’t come into it…the time frame of where you live shouldn’t come into your music. There’s plenty of people out there who, a few years later, were discovered for the geniuses they were. I’m sure, at the end of the day, whether you’re poor for your whole life or not, they should be remembered for doing what they did, that they threw their heart and soul into it and did it properly, rather than just another fucking nameless face.
You see, people always ask me about the Number One album we just put out in Australia, about how we went about writing it…and we had a couple of singles which had gone really well and suddenly there was all this pressure…people were actually saying to me “how are you going to tackle this album?” and I just stressed and stressed and stressed about it for about three days then I just went “fuck it, why am I getting caught up in all this shit?”. Here I am, sitting here, wasting my life away worrying about how I’m going to write these songs when… I’m gonna to write them, they’re gonna to get written – and I’m not going to write them half-arsed… In the end I just said “fuck it, whatever comes to my head, dude, that’s what I’ve always done, that’s got us this far, let’s just keep to what we do…”
We’re kind of proud of the way it turned out – we actually only had two weeks to record about the last three quarters of it and it debuted at Number One, so that’s kind of an indication that we don’t have to back-flip and we don’t have to sell our fans out to get an album out that people will accept…and if it’s not accepted, cool, fuck it…it’s about time people realised it’s an art-form again – you don’t have to be writing classical music for it to be an art-form, you know what I mean? You’ve just gotta feel for what you’re doing, just care about it, and that’s pretty much how music should be.
Do you find it odd, after the success you’ve had in Australia, that you’ve come over to Europe and you’ve almost had to start from square one again?
No, it’s cool, man! It’s kind of reminding me of when we started in Australia. Everything’s going really well over here, we’re playing show, getting shows… I think getting shows is a pretty good indication – if you get offered good shows, the rest of it just sort of falls into place. We’ve got a really good team behind us over here and they really believe in us, which is cool, similar to what happened in Australia. We signed to what would be considered in Australia to be a major label, it’s no Sony or anything, it’s an Australian label, and when we signed, the general vibe among my friends, my musical peers, was “don’t sign to any majors cos you’re gonna get fucked over…and it’s ‘not punk’, by the way” – what’s ‘not punk’ about doing exactly what you want to do with your life and at the end of the day beating the system and getting paid for it. And the thing is, we’re not Britney Spears or Backstreet Boys, we’re not fucking sell-outs. I think we’re a product of Backstreet Boys and fuckin’ Britney Spears in that people want to hear real music.
Is SONG FOR JASMINE a personal song?
That’s Simon, our guitarist’s, daughter – beautiful little red-headed girl she is… It’s a very personal song – we don’t get serious very often, but we get about as serious as a death in the family with that one. Simon and his girlfriend had gone through a bit of a break-up and he asked me to write a song for her. She’s actually my son’s girlfriend – they kiss and cuddle, it’s awesome…[laughs] Just in case there’s a communication breakdown over the years when she grows up, Simon asked me to write a song for her. Simon didn’t want her to grow up thinking that just because her Mum and Dad split up…cos kids are fucking crazy, they think it’s about them…the last thing I wanted was for her to grow up thinking that, so I wrote a song from the heart, and I think from Simon’s heart too, and it’s one of our most…emotional songs. People hear it and they know we are as serious as fuck.
Like I said on stage, we’re not far away from the Bloodhound Gang…we don’t fuck around as much as they do…we’re not stupid guys or anything, we fuck around cos we know it’s fun. There’s a time for being serious and SONG FOR JASMINE was a time for being serious. And RIP IT UP is a song about fuck-all, having fun, you know what I mean? You can’t be one-faceted…or is it mono-faceted…use hyphens; it’s smarter to use hyphens… (laughs)
FRIENDS seems like quite a serious song as well…
Yup. That’s a song about my best mate from when we were young and we used to go snowboarding and stuff, and we just grew apart. It’s a song about growing up, pretty much. Writing that song took me through the process of understanding what was going on. It starts off with “why did we bother?” and the end of the song is saying “I thought we were meant to be friends”…it’s just about growing up, and everyone goes through it and loses friends, not for any bad reasons, it just happens. It’s part of growing up and I’m sure people can relate to that.
What’s the most fun song to play live?
It depends what night and what member of the band you’re talking to. The most fun song for my guitarist is ROLLIN GANG he loves playing that… I think Damian probably likes playing SUCKER cos it’s got a mad slappy bit on it – he loves the crowd going nuts. My favourite song is probably GOODBYE, when I’m on form and haven’t got a cold, cos GOODBYE is another personal song and the singing sounds good live. And our drummer doesn’t give a fuck…as long as his girlfriend’s upstairs when we finish the show…[laughs]
And what are your future plans?
The UPSTYLEDOWN album comes out here at the end of February, start of March, and we’re going to tour it, and there’s something really big in the works… That’s when it comes out, so keep your eyes and your ears open because we’ll be trying our best to come back here!